Americans, through no fault of their own, think Chinese food pretty much comes down to turd-shaped egg rolls, Dumbo-eared wontons, and bite-sized chunks of pan-fried, stir-fried, or breaded food slathered in a evilly sweet sauce made mostly of cornstarch. I tend to think this is because the Chinese, being practical, immediately distorted their own food to suit (their perception of) American tastes, and they haven't looked back since. The Chinese seemingly care little about cultural ambassadorship—not in the way the Koreans care about presenting authentically Korean food to the non-Korean masses.* Following Bruce Lee's advice to "be like the nature of water," the Chinese reshaped their food to fit the American cultural container. In fact, it's almost impossible to find authentic Chinese food anywhere outside of China. Strange but true. Watch this awesome TED vid and learn more.
Anyway, when I make Chinese food, I adhere to the Yankee stereotype of it, as I did tonight in making my Yankee-style Chinese cashew chicken and shrimp with mushrooms. I took pics of the whole process, which I now submit for your delectation. Hover your cursor over each image to read its caption.
One remark: I normally make my sauce with whisky. I went to the local store to snag some el-cheapo liquor, but the cheapest whisky on hand was W50,000. I happened to glance over my shoulder at the rack holding all the vinegar and other potions, and a two-dollar bottle of Korean mirim (the Japanese call this mirin, a type of rice wine used in food prep) was staring intently at me, beckoning me over. I gratefully plucked it off the shelf and considered myself lucky: paying two dollars instead of fifty dollars is a bargain in my book. The sauce, by the way, turned out just fine, and it was a splendid, rib-sticking dinner.
POST SCRIPTUM: I've done this dish before, hence "redux."
*This is especially true when you have online personalities like the burly 50-something Hausfrau-cum-ajumma Maangchi (mangchi means "hammer"; I don't know why she doubles the "a" in her maaniker; it's not a prolonged "ah" sound).